Broadcast yourself by publishing – a scholarship journey


It has been a while for me to be an amateur consultant of scholarship. I am puzzled why. Some people asked me tips on getting scholarship for studying overseas, especially Australia. While I am always happy to share whatever I know, deep inside, I still believe that getting a scholarship is a mystery. There is no guarantee that one will get a scholarship no matter how good she/he is. However, there are steps that one can follow; there are requirements that need to be met.

I was one of the Australian Development Scholarship (ADS) grantees in 2004 for a master degree in the University of New South Wales (UNSW). When I applied for the scholarship I was not a special candidate. I had not published anything and I was also a brand-new lecturer at the Department of Geodetic Engneering, Gadjah Mada University. No much experiences to sell. The only thing that I was happy enough with was my TOEFL score which was 567. I remember it was not even an institutional TOEFL, but a TOEFL-like score. Fortunately, TOEFL-like certificate was acceptable at that time. Apart from that, I filled the form properly and considered every single question seriously. Since I knew that my hand-writing is terrible, I printed my answers for each question on separated papers, cut them and then stick them to the forms. This is what people may call “creativity”, which Javanese refer to as ‘grésék’.

I was lucky enough to be granted an ADS, one of the happiest moments in life. On 14 January 2004, I landed in Sydney for the very first time. I was thrilled to see the ‘Kangaroo Island’ that morning and could not wait to start my journey. Most importantly, it was the beginning of my international network development. I am grateful for the warm welcome and support provided by Indonesian senior students. They picked us up and assisted us with almost everything. They even prepared for us accommodation and, later on, helped us opening bank account. I will never forget their kindness. This was a good experience how then I developed my positive perception concerning life as international students in Australia. Being Indonesians is always good, wherever you are.

I did a master by research so that I did not have many classes to attend. I had only three classes and they were finished in the first session. I had a lot of time in the last 1.5 half years to do my research. Apart from my main research concerning maritime boundary delimitation between Indonesia and East Timor, I had enough time to develop my skill in writing. In 2004 I started blogging. I found writing is challenging and also self-rewarding every time I finished one article, regardless of its length and quality. Then I expand this writing hobby into academic area. I began writing academic papers for small forums, conferences or even for my own collection. In 2005 I wrote for the Jakarta Post for the very first time. It was about Ambalat, a phenomenal case between Indonesia and Malaysia concerning energy block dispute in the Sulawesi Sea.

Since then, I have been writing and writing. During my master study, I presented papers in three international conferences in Jakarta, Adelaide and Sydney. I was also given opportunities to assist my supervisor in giving lectures concerning Indonesian maritime issues. I was so excited and did not want to miss the opportunities. Meanwhile, I kept writing for the Jakarta Post and other newspapers in Indonesia such as Kompas, Sinar Harapan, Bali Post, Suara Pembaruan, etc. I tried to be consistent writing in a big topic of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, especially its geospatial/technical aspects.

Apart from academic affairs, I did have fun in Sydney during my study. I enjoyed being involved in social activities such as BBQ with Indonesian and International students. We also organized a regular discussion among Indonesian students concerning hot issues in Indonesia. In addition, working part time was also my passion. I worked as a kitchen hand in a Thai restaurant in Randwick, just like stories I read about Indonesian students studying overseas. I was so excited to be part of the stories. After several months, I changed my ‘career’ to be a pastry cook making tartlets, cakes, pies, you name it. It was so much fun working while studying. Working to me was a refreshing moment while I was stuck with my thesis. In short, I managed to combine studies, organization, and working at the same time. Those all enriched me and completed my experience of studying in Australia.

By the end of my master degree, I realized that I had published around 30 works including conferences, newspaper article, magazines, journals, book chapter, lectures, etc. Honestly, I was surprised with the number. Then I agreed that when you do something with passion, the result can be better than you expected. My résumé was beautiful with a complete combination of academic qualification, list of publications, organizational activities and working experience. As I mentioned earlier, I was not a special person. I am just someone with passion to do a lot of things at the same time.

Having returned to Indonesia, I tried to keep my spirit by maintaining contact with my supervisors in Australia. I did not stop researching, writing and publishing and sometimes I wrote papers with them. I started writing my first book in June 2006 concerning International Maritime Boundaries, which is extracted from my thesis. I also presented papers in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok in 2006, while at the same time I kept writing for newspapers. In my opinion, an academic should write both for scientific and popular media. One should not be happy publishing only in journals or scientific forums because they have limited audience. A broader spectrum of readers should be reached and newspaper is one of the answers. However, writing something serious and heavy using popular language is not easy. I found it is challenging to write about geodetic datum and coordinate accuracy in Kompas and the Jakarta Post, for instances. However, we never know until we try and I did it. One tip to remember: always associate your difficult/technical topics with popular issues. Since then, I’ve tried to publish a same topic in at least two different media: one scientific, and one popular. With this strategy, I manage to boost the quantity of my publications and reach broader band of audiences.

A long list of publication is a strong weapon for a scholarship hunter. In 2007 I was granted a United Nations-Nippon Foundation Fellowship to conduct a research in Australia and the United States of America. It was for the first time I officially worked with the University of Wollongong, being a research fellow. I also spent three months in the United Nations Office in New York, US. It was a great experience that I will never forget. Apart from having good experience of conducting research supervised by world-class researchers and being in a superb research environment with an abundance of resources, making good friends with many of the brightest young people from around the globe is really something. Not only did we learn from each other concerning ocean affairs and the law of the sea, but we also better understand and appreciate differences between us.

During the UN-Nippon fellowship, I applied for Australian Leadership Awards (ALA). The strong points of my application, I think, are the acceptance letter from University of Wollongong, a considerably long list of publication, and three strong recommendation letters. I managed to secure recommendations from my two former supervisors (this is another reason to maintain good relationship with them) and my department head in Gadjah Mada University. I was so impressed with their recommendations. I jokingly said to Asti, my wife, “it seems to me that they wrote recommendations for someone else, someone better.”

In September 2007, when I was in a short holiday in Jakarta from my UN-Nippon fellowship in Australia, I was invited for an interview by ALA. I could not imagine if the invitation came to me when I was in Australia or America, the story might have been different. Here, I believe in the power of the ‘Invisible Hand’. I believe also in luck, even though I agree with Thomas Jefferson that “the harder I work the more luck I seem to have.”

Three interviewers were there in front of me. The essence of the interview, in my opinion, was candidates’ view concerning the definition of leadership and how candidates are involved in leadership in their past, present and future life. To me leadership is an action. To lead is to control and manage ourselves. Therefore, leadership is about self management. I believe that in every each of us, there lay capacity and ability. Leadership is about managing and empowering those for good purpose, not only for you, yourself but also for people in a greater scope.

Concerning my current leadership role, I highlighted my teaching activities and the works that I have published. Leadership, to me is also about spreading your ideas to as many people as possible so they will gain knowledge and finally do something good that you wanted them to do. That is what teaching and publishing are all about. Meanwhile, for my leadership role in the future, I briefly explained my plan concerning research and possibility to give positive influence to government’s policy. My plan to establish a research center and keep publishing regularly was the one I emphasized during the interview.

I was also asked about the most self-rewarding achievement of mine. I mentioned my new-released book: International Maritime Boundaries (in Bahasa Indonesia) and took out a copy from my bag. I then explained the contents of the book and how it relates to my current PhD proposal. I was then asked how ready I am with my PhD topic. The interviewer asked me to demonstrate that I have adequate background in the area as well as having enough preparation to accomplish the research. For the first part, I told them about my master degree in UNSW with a similar research topic. In addition, I informed them my publications concerning the topic and my current fellowship with the United Nations. With regard to preparation, I told them that I have approached relevant institutions in Indonesia that I might need to contact during my research. I also asserted that I had been reading publications in the field from either journals or other publication media.

The next question was how important the topic is for Indonesia. Maritime boundary issues are, undoubtedly, important for Indonesia, being the largest archipelagic state in the world. I also explained that Indonesia has ten neighbors (India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Timor Leste) with whom maritime boundaries need to be settled. Not only that, border management will be an issue that requires serious attention in the future.

Another important question was that how I could use my knowledge and expertise to give positive influence to government’s policy. I started answering the question by telling them my scenario. First of all I told them that I have established a new subject concerning boundary delimitation and demarcation in my university in Yogyakarta. This would be a formal channel through which I can disseminate my ideas and pass it to young generation, which in turn, when their time have come, will equip them with knowledge so they can make a difference to government policy. This is a long-term objective. In addition, I will strengthen research and investigation in the relevant field by establishing or being involved in a research center. The most important part is that I will publish more from the research. Furthermore, I told them the possibility for me to be involved in developing government’s policy in the future.

Now, here I am. I am back in Australia, living in a peaceful small city of Wollongong with ALA scholarship. Surprisingly, since 2008, the top four ALA awardees are granted another award: Alison Sudradjat Awards (ASA). The award is to respect Mrs. Alison Sudradjat, an AusAID hero, who tragically died in an airplane crash in Yogyakarta in early 2007. The award provides a top-up of AUD 25,000 to each grantee to expand his/her research and opportunities. I was lucky enough to be one of the ASA grantees and met in person H.E. Stephen Smith, MP, the former Australian Foreign Minister in Canberra in 2009.

I have been doing similar things to what I did during my master studies. While keeping the passion to write and publish, I also work part time. Along with organizing discussion, I enjoyed BBQ and voluntary activities. With my amateur qualification, I have been always happy to share my experience concerning scholarship. For those who are currently fighting for scholarship, let me share Deepak Chopra’s wise words “believe in you, take an action, and tell your stories.” Good luck!

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Author: Andi Arsana

I am a lecturer and a full-time student of the universe

70 thoughts on “Broadcast yourself by publishing – a scholarship journey”

  1. thank for the story, i am the one of many people who still fighting to get a scholarship, and this blog has been such a reference for me to get the scholarship, i link every your post to my email in order to get any information that maybe you just shared, i always wonder by reading all of your stories in this blog, give me a courage to reach my dream.
    by reading your story in your trip to europe, or your advice to get a scholarship, it seems that you just tell us the success story in your life, but by reading this post, i realize that you also have other story which the opposite of your success part, hardwork and passion.
    thank you for the moral of this story, and i hope one day i will have fortune like yours

  2. It’s an inspiring story of a great struggle n success,
    Let me introduce myself, my name is Goldy, and just graduate from UNPAD. Your research about Ambalat case helped me so much on my thesis about Ambalat. I read your article and your book and did my research about Indonesia foreign policy related to Ambalat case. Thank u very much.
    I hope oneday I got the scholars for Master degree just like what you have now.
    Thx for ur sharing.

  3. Terharu baca tulisan ini. Huhu.. Pasti bapak pinter banget yah? Ato beruntung banget? Ok, karena bapak pinter, makanya beruntung 😉

    Ok pak, mudah-mudahan saya bisa (sedikit) seperti bapak. Thanks for shared

  4. My name is Kurniati, Lecturer in state universit. Ryeading your blog was really encouraging me to stick to the fight for scholarship. I graduated Master Degree in psychology, but teaching in Faculty of Sport because I was an athlete. Some people said that Indonesian athlete are not too clever,… i think its true… soemetimes i feel inferior becuse I have no research at all to publish in journals, and still very confusing for me to write in academic purpose (especially in english)…. but i believe myself that im have the unique personality you mentioned. Yesterday i gamble with myself, I send CV and research proposal to few professors in Aussie Univ.s … padahal itu proposal hanya berisi garis besar saja, belum dikoreksi secara kalimat, ejaan, dsb… dan itu saya kirimkan tanpa tahu bagaimana contoh CV dan proposal sebelumnya … (100% pure by myself without seeing any example)… one of the professor send email that he didnt supervise any Ph.D student right now, other professor reference me to other, etc.. i feel broken-hearted, and thinking jangan-jangan my CV and proposal was a joke for them… but i said to myself to be strong and pray… Allah please help me… this morning after praying subuh i found your website… its really makes me feel recharged again, thank you so much…now im still in a struggle to find Ph.D supervisor. Im look for opprtunity to contact you again …

  5. Thanks a bunch for your response

    soon after I typed a response in this blog, I receive an email from Professor who agreed to be my supervisor (alhamdulillah …!! yaaaay ….!!!), but he ask me to limit the scope of my research and fix my proposal . Is it ok if we decided to change the topic ?

  6. Such a great story sir…
    I am anggi, a bataknese man from Sumatera Utara. I have been following your post related to study in Aussie since I was a sophomore student. Now, I am a graduated and working in a national private company in Medan. I was accepted in one of Private University in Taiwan with a full scholarship, but I choosed to gain my experience then taking master degree in the next two years….
    I’d love to know the chance for me to apply for the ADS for I know that you were working in a private company before getting the scholarship…
    By the way sir, may I know your email address? Or do you have facebook account or skype?
    Coz I really need someone who can teach/help me to fix my personal statement/study objective (aarrrrrgggghhhhh….I hate writing so much…)…

    Regards,

    Anggi

  7. Hi Andi, I had been trying to pursue scholarship from a few countries and ADS was one of those but then I gave up the passion since I got married – my husband work is not flexible and we both don’t fancy the idea of long-distance marriage. Reading your blogs has made me feel excited again, but the things are: I am married with a foreigner, we’re living overseas-not OZ/NZ though, and I am heading to 35 this year. But I do love the idea of writing and have been trying to live it by blogging before going to some serious items like newspapers and stuff. So, I’m not sure if I still have a little chance to give master degree a shot. Any ideas? Warm regards!

  8. Wah, very inspiring and informative posting, sir. I hope i can have similar success story like yours. I am in the process of writing my bachelor thesis right now, while at the same time i also hunting for scholarship. After graduation i wish to continue my study in Aussie. I wish to get some advice from you in the future sir.

  9. Terima kasih banyak Pak Andi Arsana atas artikel di atas, sangat inspiratif.
    Saya mungkin termasuk “pemburu” beasiswa ke Australia tahun 2013. Rencananya, saya akan mengajukan beasiswa untuk ADS dan juga ke BU dikti. Apa cara seperti ini diperkenankan? kedua, kampus yg ingin saya tuju adalah UNE, Armidale. Mgkin Pak Andi bisa berbagi mengenai “track record” mahasiswa indonesia yg kuliah di sana.
    Mator sakalangkong.

    1. Boleh apply lebih dari satu scholarships. Hanya harus pilih jika dapat lebih dari satu nantinya 🙂
      UNE bagus. Ada beberapa mhs Ina di sana. Kalau saya bisa kontak, nanti saya kenalkan. Silakan kontak saya lewat email biar saya ingat.

  10. Maaf Pak Andi, mau minta pencerahannya sedikit…
    Yang Bapak maksud dengan publisihing itu bagaimana? Apakah cukup dengan nulis2 di koran (trus qta cantumin di form ADS), atau harus di jurnal?
    Terus terang saya belum pernah publishing, tapi mimpi pengen dapet beasiswa S3 walaupun cuma lulusan S2 dalam negeri, he2….

    1. Publikasi formal yg diakui adalah yg besifat ilmiah. Jurnal menempati urutan tertinggi. Buku juga bagus. Makalah konferensi yang dibukukan juga diakui. Intinya yg disajikan dengan review para ahli. Koran jelas bukan tulisan ilmiah tetapi bisa saja dicantumkan untuk menguatkan namun sebaiknya ada yg ilmiah seperti di atas.

  11. Terima Kasih Pak Andi,
    Untuk setiap energi positif yang Anda sebarkan melalui tulisan-tulisan Anda.
    Membaca tulisan ini membuat saya percaya bahwa ada balasan untuk setiap usaha yang dilakukan dengan sungguh-sungguh.
    I wish that the more you share, the more you’re blessed.
    🙂

  12. Salam kenal Pak Andi.
    Saya seorang mahasiswa semester 6 namun saya tertarik sekali dengan beasiswa ADS. Terimakasih untuk semua tulisannya yang sangat informatif dan memotivasi…sangat berguna bagi saya. Saya akan coba melamar beasiswa ini untuk Master’s degree tahun depan, setelah saya lulus S1 😀

  13. tulisan yang bagus dan membuat saya semakin bersemangat untuk meraih beasiswa ads dari ausaid ini.. kalo untuk daftar di universitas di ausienya itu apakah dilakukan setelah kita lulus beasiswa ADS atau sebelumnya karena saya lihat di blognya bapak persyaratannya termasuk surat diterima masuk universitas Ausie???

    suksma
    yoga

  14. it’s definitely me when you said that you we’re not a special candidate and had no much experience to sell…the difference is that you’re already successful while I’m not (yet)…… I’m of a poor family…having Master degree either in the country or overseas is just like a dream comes true…..only by the scholarship will make it happen..thanks for an inspiring story Mr. Andi…

  15. Oh my God, Pak I Made Andi Arsana. I read each sentence easily. You told me, how important of publication. I start writing in English, but feel horrible – at least i try. I do love the way of your thinking. And then big contribution to our beloved country, Indonesia. I wish, i can meet you and move to bright future.

    Gracias Pak I Made Andi Arsana

  16. Thanks u so much sir. U r so inspiring. I really wish to get a scholarship next year. I read every post on ur blog. I hope i can get it. Now im still trying to find as much information as i can. Including increase my english skill. Wish me luck sir. I believe every person who had achievement should try n reach every idea that goes to our mind.
    Once again thank u so much for ur kindness to share us this information, Sir.

    Best regards from Makassar.

  17. hallo bli , salam kenal nama sy icha dari makassar , saat ini masih kuliah semester 5 salah satu PTS di makassar, sy dari jurusan teknik kimia dn sebenarnya sy tertarik dengan universitas wollongong , sy mau tanya bagaimna jurusan teknik kimia di universitas wollongong ? trus kan di aplikasi ADS yg bersangkutan dgn jurusan sy hanya mining dan water and sanitation , bagaimna kedua jurusan tersebut di univerisitas wolongong ? thanks in advice bli 🙂

    1. Susah coba cek Websitenya? Coba cek, teliti kurikulumnya, lihat publikasi para profesornya, penelitian mhs S3-nya, patennya dll. Dari situ bisa dilihat. Apakah perlu saya baca dulu di Website mereka dan kasih tahu Icha atau Icha berkenan membaca sendiri?

  18. Sir, first of all, thank you so much because this story inspire me a lot. There are some parts of your story that is same as mine especially in “you are not special candidates” 🙂

    I am an alumni of English Study Program in Teaching & Educational Science Faculty of UNDANA- NTT and an amateur in knowing about AAS. To study abroad is one of my big dreams. Actually, I have known you when I was a semester VIII student 3 years ago. I bought your book “Berguru ke Negeri Kangguru”. That is an incredible and helpful book for me. After I graduated my bachelor grade in 2015, I ‘accidentally’ passed the government (DIKTI) program in education field that is called SM3T (Sarjana Mendidik di Daerah Terluar, Terdepan, Tertinggal). I taught Papua children for a year. Now, I am a PPG (Program Profesi Guru) student in UNDANA and still want to chase scholarship after I finish my study in PPG. This is the first time I explore your website. I found it amazing. You are very motivational person. And thanks again for that. I will explore your website further and really hope any additional information when needed from you later.

    Regards,

    Olland Eko

  19. Hai Pak Andi
    Salam kenal. Saya Edo Ronaldo, saat ini kerja di Andritz Hydro (electromechanical supplier for hydroelectric power plant) dan lulus dari itb tahun 2016.
    Saya sangat terinspirasi dengan tulisan Bapak. Terkhususnya untuk bagaimana perjalanan Bapak dalam menjadi penulis.
    Saya ingin bertanya Pak, bagaimana sebaiknya saya memulai belajar menulis kreatif seperti Bapak ya? Sehingga enak sekali saat saya baca tulisan Bapak, sangat ngeflow dan tulisannya seolah olah orang itu ingin terus dan penasaran dengan whats next nya?
    Saya sempat mulai dengan sering membaca tulisan orang lain lewat artikel atau berita internasional. Terkadang setelah saya membaca artikel itu saya merasa belum bisa meningkatkan kemampuan menulis saya. Dan menjadi sangat tidak pede saat akan menulis tentunya.
    Terlebih lagi jika ingin menulis dalam bahasa selain bahasa nasional kita.
    Apakah dari Bapak ada tips sebaiknya saya memulai dari mana Pak? Apakah ada guide menulis yang memberikan saya insight tata cara penulisan yang tepat dan tentunya mudah dicerna oleh saya?
    Terima kasih pak atas waktu dan sarannya.
    Salam, Edo

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